Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mile . . . Mile & a Half

I am 64 years old and in addition to all the things I regret having done there are many things I regret not having done.  Among these is not having spent more time outdoors, in the wilds, hiking and camping.  I’m no daredevil.  Hang-gliding and extreme mountaineering don’t appeal to me.  But hiking in the outback does.  I’ve always wanted to walk the Appalachian Trial, despite Bill Bryson’s assurances in A Walk in the Woods that it’s a bore (and I’m sure much of it is).  The film Mile . . . Mile & a Half (2013; dirs. Jason Fitzpatrick, Ric Serene) follows the walk of a group of adults in their 30s along the John Muir Trail in California and Nevada.  Their trip takes them 25 days along a 220-mile stretch.  The walking is difficult.  Most of it takes place above 10,000 feet.  Every day is another sequence of beautiful scenes.  There is nothing profound about this film, other than the intense natural beauty of the surroundings they walk through.  Along the way they meet other hikers, including two young painters, a Japanese girl walking alone, two young men with a ukulele and a xylophone, and married school teachers.  Although their purported purpose in taking the hike is to film a documentary (they talk a bit too much about this) they mainly want to prove to themselves that they can do it.  The tone of the film is light, never ponderous, not even introspective, though at times you can sense their moments of contemplation.  The fact that the John Muir Trail exists is amazing.  It would be a challenge for someone like me, but it’s now on my post-retirement list, along with the Appalachian Trail.

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